An army of volunteers from across the country is hard at work in New Orleans, and more help is very much needed. If you can donate some time, and can get yourself to New Orleans, here is how to connect with one of the key organizations that is helping to clean up the Katrina-devastated area.
The Common Ground Collective was established in the week after Katrina hit. It was the first organization to open up a medical clinic in the unaffected area across the river from New Orleans, and it provided immediate assistance -- food, water, and supplies -- to thousands of low-income residents who were unable to evacuate.
Common Ground continues to provide a range of crucial services, and to coordinate the efforts of hundreds of volunteers. In particular, people who are able-bodied and accustomed to working with basic hand tools are needed for house gutting, emergency repairs, and mold abatement efforts. Medical professionals are also needed at the clinic. (For more information about other tasks for which volunteers are needed, see Common Ground's website.)
We at WFS believe many of our members and friends would be interested in lending a helping hand in New Orleans, and we encourage you to volunteer. You can contact Common Ground directly, or if you would like to try to go to New Orleans at the same time as other WFS members, please , and we will do our best to hook you up with others who are planning to volunteer.
Once you decide to volunteer, and you know the dates you will be in New Orleans, you must fill out a volunteer registration form online at commongroundrelief.org/registration.html
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT IN NEW ORLEANS
Common Ground provide basic communal housing for all volunteers. This means space in the community center, either a bunk bed, a cot, or space for your sleeping pad/mat, allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis. (You will need to bring your own sleeping bag and pad.) There are often smaller houses available, but most of the spaces are very basic: gutted-out buildings that have been cleaned up. Camping is also an option, so if you want, bring a tent.
Showers are available at the site, but you may not be able to have one every day. Bathrooms are shared.
Common Ground provides three meals a day, and offers vegan and vegetarian choices. (Strict vegans and vegetarians may want to bring dietary supplements such as vitamins, power bars, etc.) Food allergies can be accommodated if you notify the kitchen when you arrive. Bringing snacks or fresh produce to share is a good idea.
What else to bring
Common Ground can provide Tyvek suits and other gear, but it might be useful to have your own rubber boots and gloves that fit. Also bring protective goggles or safety glasses and a good filter mask or other respiratory protection against mold and dust.
A new volunteer orientation is held every day at 5:30 PM at the community center, which is located at 1614 Pauline Street (at the corner of Pauline and North Claiborne). This short meeting will provide you with general health and safety information, and other information you will need while working with Common Ground.
Common Ground will provide directions for those who are driving. If you are flying, a shuttle bus (which runs until 8 p.m.) from the New Orleans airport will take you to the community center for $13. (For those arriving at the airport after 8 p.m., the volunteer coordination team at Common Ground can help with transportation from the airport if you contact them in advance.)
Questions? Please contact Common Ground’s Volunteer Coordination Team at 504/218-6613, or e-mail .
NETWORKING THE WOMEN OF TODAY'S FIREFIGHTING WORLD, AND PROVIDING RESOURCES TO HELP BUILD THE FIRE SERVICE OF THE FUTURE